Leonid Yacobson Theatre’s Don Quixote was put on stage in 2017 by Johan Kobborg, a guest choreographer from Denmark. The première celebrated the 200th birth anniversary of Marius Petipa and turned into a major news-worthy event in St. Petersburg’s ballet world, as Kobborg managed to both preserve the best elements of the original choreography and liven up the performance with new dance sequences.
The show’s plot loosely follows several chapters from The Ingenious Gentleman Don Quixote of La Mancha, the famous novel by Miguel de Cervantes. The protagonist is Basilio, a quick-witted and optimistic barber who woos Kitri, an innkeeper’s daughter, only to be harshly rebuffed by the frugally-minded father of his beloved when he asks for her hand in marriage. The wandering knight Don Quixote helps Kitri and Basilio find their happiness, and all the mishaps, high-jinks, and adventures culminate in a merry wedding feast.
Don Quixote is, without a doubt, one of Marius Petipa’s greatest creations. Back when he was still a ballet dancer, he had travelled extensively across Spain, and when he was tasked with staging this Mediterranean novella for the Mariinsky Theatre, his choreographic depictions of the vibrant Barcelona and its people turned out exceptionally precise. The score for the show was composed by Ludwig Minkus.
Johan Kobborg, who himself used to be a brilliant ballet dancer, gave a choreographic “voice” to characters that had previously never danced in this show: Gamache, Kitri’s buffoon of an arranged suitor, and the cunning Sancho Panza both received their very own solo variations. The ballet also gained some extra scenes with the loving couples: Kitri and Basilio now get everyone in a festive mood at the Roma camp, and Espada the bull fighter performs an engagement duo with his Street Dancer love interest.
The production’s backdrops are the creations of Jérôme Kaplan, a renowned master of set design. To properly convey the atmosphere of this romantic knightly tale, he studied Gustave Doré’s etchings, which were used as illustrations in the 19th century edition of Don Quixote.
The Theatre would like to express its gratitude to Mr Toshihiko Takahashi and the Avtodorozhnaya Stroitelnaya Korporatsiya company for their support in creating the production.